He is a fencer, an outstanding witch, a mediocre sorcerer, and a gifted but dangerously incompetent Elder Sorcerer. He is very good with thrown knives or shuriken, proficient with a lepip, and a (presently inactive) assassin-by-trade, probably ranking among the top five or ten of that profession in the Empire - the first position belonging to Mario. He was relatively recently granted the Imperial title of Count Szurke, and is also technically still a Baronet of House Jhereg. His most notable continuing activity: providing food for his familiar, the jhereg Loiosh (and his jhereg mate Rocza).
Vlad has been known to use the aliases Lord Mawdyear, Vlad Merss, Kaldor, Padraic, Savn, Vaan, and Sandor. He is described as being somewhat shorter than a young Dragaeran, with dark brown eyes and hair (often including a mustache). He also seems somewhat bowlegged to a Dragaeran observer.
- See also Meta:Vlad Taltos.
After many years, his father spent their entire life savings to purchase a baronetcy in the Jhereg (see Joining Houses), in order to provide what he perceived as a "better life" for his son. It should be said that Vlad's father hated all things "Eastern" and endeavored to raise his son with the belief that Dragaerans were superior. In this he was not especially successful. (In fact, Vlad developed a deep hatred of Dragaerans which was aided by the fact that Orca bullies would beat him up on a regular basis.)
Vlad was fourteen when his father died of one of the many plagues that were common in Draegara during the Interregnum. Vlad's father refused to allow his disease to be healed by witchcraft, due to his disdain for all things Eastern. The family could not afford the services of a sorcerer, having spent so much money purchasing a title in the Jhereg. Vlad himself would have probably died of the same disease, but he was healed by his grandfather using witchcraft.
After his father's death, Vlad continued to run the family restaurant for about two years. He then sold it and (with the aid of Kiera the thief) joined the criminal Right Hand of the Jhereg as a low-level enforcer, working for Nielar.
Eventually, Vlad started accepting "work" (i.e. performing assassinations for other members of the Jhereg). This was Vlad's idea of a perfect job at the time, owing to his hatred of Dragaerans.
After working in this business for a time, Vlad took the opportunity to replace his former boss, Tagichatn, and run the criminal side of a section of Adrilankha for himself. (Details on Vlad's rise within the Jhereg can be found in Taltos, and Yendi.)
Shortly after this, Vlad was approached by Morrolan e'Drien and Sethra Lavode for his help in retrieving the staff containing the soul of Aliera e'Kieron. (And further, his help in venturing to the Paths of the Dead with Morrolan to restore Aliera's soul to her body.) It was at this time that Vlad "acquired" Spellbreaker, a magical chain that protected him against sorcery.
During one especially difficult period during his rise within the Jhereg (a war with another Jhereg boss named Laris), Vlad met an Eastern woman named Cawti—when she successfully assassinated him! Fortunately, Vlad was revivified by Aliera, and Vlad soon found he had more in common with Cawti (noticeably her hatred of Dragaerans) than differences, and the two quickly fell in love, and were soon married. (Yendi)
It was shortly after this that Vlad was contacted by The Demon to perform some very special "work"—taking out Mellar, a former Jhereg Council member who had absconded with nine million Imperials. It was during this job that Vlad met Rocza, a female jhereg who agreed to help him complete his job. Shortly thereafter, Rocza became Loiosh's mate. (Jhereg)
A few months after this, Vlad discovered, much to his chagrin, that Cawti had joined a group of Easterners in South Adrilankha who were working to overthrow The Empire. As a result of this, he found himself at odds with another Jhereg named Herth. After numerous foiled assassination attempts on both sides, Vlad eventually "negotiated" a peace with Herth, and then bought him out, taking over the Organization interests in South Adrilankha. (Teckla)
The peace did not last long, however, as Vlad quickly found himself at odds with the rest of the Jhereg Organization over the events occurring in South Adrilankha.
It was shortly after Vlad had murdered the King of Greenaere for Verra that the unrest in the Easterners' Ghetto came to a head (See Revolt of 244). As a result Boralinoi, a Jhereg Council member, arranged for Cawti's arrest by The Empire. This proved to be the final straw for Vlad, who went to the Empress with information implicating Boralinoi in the crime. This had major consequiences for Vlad, since even though Boralinoi was killed shortly thereafter, the rest of the Jhereg Council dedicated all of their resources to finding and ending Vlad's career permanently. For his actions, Vlad was made Count of Szurke (he may be the first Jhereg ever to receive an Imperial title). (Phoenix)
Having no choice but to try to elude the assassins of the Jhereg, Vlad left his life in Adrilankha behind, and began wandering the countryside, searching for a new life. He has survived thus far with the help of two jhereg, a gold Phoenix Stone and a black one set together into an amulet, to mask him to sorcery and witchcraft, and a witch's amulet supplied by his Noish-pa to make teleportation less unsettling.
At this time, he visited briefly with Noish-pa before making his way to his ancestral homeland of Fenario in search of his mothers' relatives. He was embroiled in a web of paranoia in the village of Burz, and was badly injured, only barely escaping and hiding out in the city of Fenario afterwards. His experiences in Burz teaches him a harsh lesson in the relationships between nobility, industry, witchcraft, and a Merchants' Guild.(Jhegaala) The lesson appears to have cost him several months' recovery time and the pinky on his left hand.
Later, during a visit to Smallcliff, Vlad discovered the murder of Reins, the cart driver who had helped him infiltrate the keep of Loraan years earlier. Vlad then recruited the help of a young Teckla named Savn in killing the undead Athyra wizard. During this encounter, Savn was traumatized to the point of catatonia. (Athyra)
Searching for a cure for Savn, Vlad later investigated the murder of a powerful Orca. He learned that the Empire's finances are not as stable as they seem, that he can be traced psychically through Loiosh, and that Kiera the Thief was actually Sethra Lavode. (Vlad is the only other person to know this last fact). (Orca)
In Issola, Vlad was called upon to help rescue Morrolan and Aliera, who had been abducted by the Jenoine. Using Spellbreaker to locate the pair, Vlad and Teldra used Morrolan's Window to travel to the place where the pair were being held. During the escape from the Jenoine, which came with the aid of Verra, Vlad's arm was injured by a Jenoine weapon.
Back on Dragaera, Vlad, along with Morrolan, Aliera, Verra, and Sethra Lavode, made plans to stop the Jenoine's plan to invade Dragaera using hijacked amorphia from the Lesser Sea of Chaos. During the battle, Lady Teldra was struck down by a morganti weapon. Using Spellbreaker, however, Vlad was able to re-constitute portions of Teldra's soul into the morganti weapon, fusing Spellbreaker into the weapon's hilt during the process.
Using this new weapon, Vlad was able to destroy one of the Jenoine, and drive the others off, foiling their invasion plans, for the present.
Afterwards, Vlad decided to head into Adrilankha for a meal at Valabar's, despite the danger this might place him in at the hands of the Jhereg. While dining, Vlad encountered a young Dzurlord named Telnan, who shared his meal. Another unexpected visitor to the table, the notorious Mario Greymist, let Vlad know that his estranged wife Cawti was in trouble with the Left Hand of the Jhereg.
After visiting with Cawti, Vlad agreed to help her with the situation. This involved unraveling a power play by the Left Hand, in conjunction with a struggle for control of the Jhereg Council; leaderless after the recent death of Curithne. With the help of Telnan, Vlad managed to broker a deal with the Left Hand (as well as with The Demon) to keep the Jhereg (both sides) from interfering with South Adrilankha until after the next Dragon Reign. Vlad then learned of the existence of his son .
After meeting with his son for the first time, and having one final meal at Valabar's, Vlad returned to his vagabond life on the run from the Jhereg. He spent the next four years living off the proceeds of his previously amassed fortune, as well as by relieving would-be highwaymen of their purses whenever they attempted to rob him.
It was after one such escapade, about four years later, that Vlad learned of the arrest of Aliera e'Kieron, on the charge of using Elder Sorcery. An apparently politically motivated move by the Empress, with the assistance of Norathar, Vlad returned once more to Adrilankha to render assistance to his friend.
According to Aliera, Vlad is the reincarnation of Dolivar, the founder of the house of Jhereg, and brother of Kieron. Needless to say, this information has had an effect on the hatred of Dragaerans Vlad has carried throughout his life. (This is also how Vlad is capable of using Elder Sorcery, which he has done only twice, nearly killing himself (and a number of others) on each occasion.)
Like nearly everyone's, Vlad's story begins in obscurity. But he continues to become more historically significant, and eventually destined, it seems, to become well-known.
- In Phoenix, Vlad is well-known throughout the Jhereg, though perhaps not in a way he'd like. He also becomes a friend of the Empress, she grants him an almost-unprecedented (for an Easterner) Imperial Title and she probably still owes him a favour.
- In Issola, Vlad is instrumental in repelling an attack by the Jenoine, a fact not yet known to the public but later discovered by Paarfi of Roundwood and therefore likely a part of history.
- In Orca, Vlad is "deeply involved" in the Fyres affair, and helps resolve it, which eventually comes to the attention of Khaavren and Pel.
- In Jhegaala, Vlad makes an anonymous gift to the Empress which she has no trouble guessing is from him.
- In Iorich, Vlad and the Empress converse nearly as equals.
- In the case of the False Jenoine Invasion, early on, Vlad becomes the subject of an Empire-wide manhunt. Later, details of Vlad's association with Empire notables such as Morrolan, Aliera, Sethra and the Empress, as well as his defense of the Empire from the Jenoine, and his holding of a Great Weapon, come to the attention of Khaavren and Pel. Pel, for one, is determined to know more about him. Khaavren accords Vlad grudging respect, in marked contrast to their first meeting in Teckla.
- Details like how he came by his Great Weapon, his friendship with Sethra Lavode, his discreet dealings with the Empress, Khaavren, Piro, Mario, Aliera, etc. would normally be enough on their own to bring him to the public eye. He has avoided fame so far by simply not advertising any of them. But with Pel and Khaavren now interested in him, this obscurity may change.
- By some later date, he is considered important enough to become the subject of a history by Paarfi.
- By the time of Tiassa, Vlad appears to be well on his way to becoming a publicly-known figure in the Empire, for better or for worse.
- See also Speculation:Vlad Taltos.
- Noish-pa (his Grandfather)
- Baronet Pishta Taltos (his father (deceased))
- Marishka Merss Taltos (his mother (deceased))
- Ibronka Taltos (his paternal grandmother (deceased))
- Jani Taltos (his great uncle (deceased))
- Merss family in Burz, (deceased)
- Cawti (his estranged wife)
- Vlad Norathar (their son)
- Loiosh (his familiar) and Rocza, Loiosh's mate
- Kieron (his brother in a former life)
- Aliera (his sibling (also in a former life))
- Devera (who will be his niece (sort of, see above) when she is born)
Vlad has a LOT of enemies. Here are the ones we know about so far, with a brief rundown of why they don't like him very much.
- Count Soffta: For threatening his life, and for betraying Boralinoi to the Empire.
- Sethra the Younger: After he broke down the Yendi Conspiracy, and discredited and humiliated her in the process.
- The Sorceress in Green: After he broke down the Yendi Conspiracy, and discredited and humiliated her in the process.
- Toronnan: For threatening the Jhereg Imperial Representative, and for betraying Boralinoi to the Empire.
- Herth: For his attempts to uncover the person who ordered Franz's death, and for them being successful.
- Bajinok: For his attempts to uncover the person who ordered Franz's death, for them being successful, and for killing him.
- Vonnith: For his attempts to uncover the Orca conspiracy, and for them being successful.
- Reega: For his attempts to uncover the Orca conspiracy, and for them being successful.
- Terion: For interfering with and disrupting his bid for leadership of the Jhereg Council.
- Nylanth: For interfering with and disrupting his move into South Adrilankha.
- Caola: For interfering with and disrupting the Left Hand's designs in South Adrilankha.
- Triesco: For interfering with and disrupting the Left Hand's designs in South Adrilankha .
- Loraan: For relieving him of Aliera's soul, as well as Spellbreaker. And helping kill him. Twice.
- Mellar: For permanently killing him, just after taking measures to guarantee it undoes his reason for life.
- Laris: For interfering with and disrupting the Yendi Conspiracy, and for killing him.
- Boralinoi: For betraying him to the Empire, and for killing him.
- Ishtvan: For being his target, and for killing him.
- Stony: For his attempts to uncover the Orca conspiracy, and for them being successful.
- Domm: For his attempts to uncover the Orca conspiracy, and for them being successful.
- Crithnak: For destroying her sister's soul, and for successfully arranging for her to be killed.
- Crithnak's sister: For destroying her soul.
- Fornia: For assisting Morrolan in locating the sword he stole from Baritt after his death, and preventing his plans to obtain the Great Weapon within.
- The Jhereg Council: For his betrayal of Boralinoi to the Empire, and for threatening Count Soffta.
- The government of Greenaere: For his assassination of Haro Olithorvold.
- The Jenoine: For killing one, and foiling one of their plans.
- The Left Hand of the Jhereg: For foiling their designs on South Adrilankha.
- Kelly's Movement: For being a member of the 'aristocracy'.
The following individuals worked for Vlad at various times during the period where he ran a section of Adrilankha.
- "No matter how subtle a wizard, a knife between the shoulder blades will seriously cramp his style."
- "Shut up, Loiosh."
- "Say, are those real spears?"
-- (Taltos (book))
- "Yeah. You go down and hold 'em off while I set up the ballista."
-- (Taltos (book))
- "Sometimes winning is painful, but it's always better than losing."
-- (Dragon (book))
- "I'm generalizing from one example, here, but everyone generalizes from one example. At least, I do."
-- (Issola (book))
- Now that I think about it, most of my life has consisted of taking the opening that desperation required and opportunity presented.
-- (Issola (book))
- "Don't you ever miss the days when you used to be nostalgic?"
-- (Dzur (book))
- "Never underestimate the power of a hissy cow."
- "I went to the place where no one returns from except for those who do"
- "What if there were no hypothetical situations?"